by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Fallen Legion+ is definitely an interesting beast, in that it’s two games in one. The first screen you are show features two characters: Princess Cecille (who is the main character in Sins of an Empire) and Legatus Laendur (of Flames of Rebellion). Picking one of them sets you on your path to the main menu, where you can play the respective title, or go through the “one life” mode. You’ll still be able to revive the Exemplars, but if your main character dies, game over. There’s also a handy New Game+/Epilogue, which is great because it’s not really that long of a game. The two games share pretty much the same assets, and though the stories do intersect, because their goals are definitely polar opposite, either choice is a good one. Worst case, it offers replayability in that you can play through one story, then the other, to see their particular perspective. Having multiple perspectives and morality tales in an Action RPG is a pretty nice change of pace. Whether you want to rebuild a crumbling empire riddled with corruption, or bring it all down and reshape it in your own image, you can’t really lose here.
You pick your stage on an open map you might find in Final Fantasy Tactics, but unlike FFT, you don’t have to fear random encounters. You also have a morale meter here on this screen, but it never seems very clear what makes it rise and fall. In battle, you occasionally have to make morality-based choices which confer upon your team a variety of buffs or items. They don’t really tell you much about the characters being affected, however, so you have to balance what’s “good” or “right” versus what buff/item you might need. Sometimes they give a bonus and also a debuff (such as +attack, -defense), for the duration of the battle. I like this idea, but I never really knew which choices were good or bad, because I didn’t know who Cecille was really with or against and had no time to think about it. Sometimes after these choices in a stage you’ll unlock new potential buffs, which is also pretty awesome. Not all of these stages are battles, either. Honestly, the “dialogue” stages take just as long as the battles do. I expected after the talking was done, that maybe I could go into the towns, interact with people, maybe even buy stuff. However, all it does is reiterate the chatter (but you can speed through it now at least).
Now it’s battle time! You pick a team of Exemplars (dead spirits that rise to serve your cause) with a host of different stats and weapons. You’ll have ranged fighters, tanks, melee units, and you can unlock more of them as you play. Each of these characters is bound to a button on your controller/keyboard (and your MC is also bound to one, so three Exemplars + MC). Here’s where I had a serious issue with the game. Half the time the game shows the Playstation buttons (the game was originally a Playstation title) which is fine; I use a PS4 controller. But the other half of the time it showed Xbox Buttons. Now, this is not really difficult, because I know the button layouts; it’s not rocket science. But it can be jarring or frustrating in a pinch to see something you aren’t used to seeing. It’s not bad, but it is definitely a serious oversight. Each Exemplar has its own health bar, and if they die you can use the Revive spell to bring them back. If you don’t get them revived before the enemy starts attacking again, you lose! There’s also a “limit break” style mode, which can appear in various situations. When this occurs you can simply spam attacks and spells at your leisure til it wears off. I was only able to trigger it a few times, personally.
This is at its core an action RPG mixed with turn-based combat. Each character has a circular gauge that shows how many attacks you have built up (think Valkyrie Profile). Hitting a button once will fill a circle below you with their image, and simultaneously set up their attack. If an Exemplar’s attack is on the last circle, it activates their “Deathblow”, which is a special attack with a variety of special effects, like lowering enemies attack/defense or doing extra damage. So while sure, you can button mash your way through this game, it’s much smarter to consider things a bit more carefully and figure out what Deathblow you need when. There are also more powerful Deathblow abilities, that require 6 or 8 circles on the gauge, and if you have one selected, the other Exemplars Deathblows will also require that many (but will have a “+” next to them and I believe they hit harder/are more effective).
The main character will also have their own powers. For example, Ceceille uses her Grimoire to cast spells, from Reviving the Exemplars, a Healing Spell, and an Attack Spell. As the Exemplars attack, her mana recharges, and you can cast the spells again. You definitely need to learn the defensive button, the Block. Holding it down lowers the damage you take, but if you can time it perfectly, a Perfect Block nullifies the damage and can weaken/stun the enemies. But as they can clump together with multiple enemies on screen at once, it can be very hard to see the start of their attack animations. Hell, I’ve seen it happen when I block early. It doesn’t seem very exact.
There’s also no visual clue on screen how long these fights are, and the “decision-making” parts happen seemingly at random. Fallen Legion+ could definitely do with more clarity there. Whatever the trigger, when it’s time, a brief story blurb pops up on the screen, and three cards show up, each with a choice and a reward. There’s a timer, so pick fast! The combat is easy to learn, definitely fun and tactical, but it would be much better to know how many fights I’m going to endure and when. At the end of the battle, you’ll be graded on how you did, and this is where you’ll see new Deathblows, characters, and/or traits. You’ll also get Gemstones here, which you can equip in the main menu, which offers a plethora of stats to Cecille or her Exemplars. So will you need to re-equip as you decide to change your party.
The Grimoire Eats What?? 3/5 (Good)
This is where the game kind of falls off for me. That’s all you do. You endure a side-scrolling battle stage, move on to the next one, or you do a story stage where you just read/listen to the dialogue. Adjusting Deathblows, Gemstones, and Team Makeup is the most you do outside of battle. Now, I enjoy the gameplay a great deal. The graphics are pretty appealing, and the attacks are awesome. It’s definitely worth it for the price. For 40 bucks, it’s a solid story with two characters, two very different reasons for acting, New Game+, and a challenge mode. I do feel like a player who is new to the series will definitely get their money’s worth here. It’s certainly not without its flaws. Fallen Legion+ is fun, but I do wish there was something more to it. The core of the game is very strong, and I like the story. A lot of very serious moral implications are made and the story is pretty damn heavy. But I wish it felt like more than “story stage” or “battle stage” during the gameplay.
Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.